Common performs during Common’s Let Love: An Expression Of Art, Words & Song on May 06, 2019 in New York City.
Photo: Ilya S. Savenok (Getty Images for Common’s Book Tour In New York)

Shame thrives in silence. With every word spoken, every narrative reclaimed, sexual abuse victims and survivors have found a renewed power.

In his new memoir, Let Love Have the Last Word, Common spoke about a topic that is often buried in silence amongst black men in the community — experiencing sexual assault.

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Trigger Warning: Please be advised, the following material includes details of sexual assault.

The resurgence of his traumatic memories came from a workshopping session with fellow actor and friend Laura Dern.

“I was excited for a road trip I was about to take with my family. My mother; my godmother, Barbara; her son and my godbrother Skeet; and his relative, who I’ll call Brandon…,” Common wrote on a memory from when he was about 9 or 10 years old.

On one particular night, young Common had to share a bed with Brandon. While in bed, he felt Brandon’s hand on him, an action which the boy rejected.

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“He kept saying ‘It’s okay, It’s okay,’ as he pulled down my shorts and molested me. After he stopped he kept asking me to perform it on him. I kept repeating ‘No’ and pushing him away,” the 47-year-old rapper-actor recalled. “I felt a deep and sudden shame for what happened.”

Common hasn’t seen his accused assaulter in 25 years and did note that he has forgiven him.

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Much like many people who cope with sexual trauma, Common initially disassociated from the experience. Since then, he has found solace in processing his traumas in therapy.

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“I just pushed the whole thing out of my head,” he recounted. “Maybe it’s a matter of survival—Even now, two years after that flash resurgence of memories, as I’m writing, I’m still working through all of this in myself and with my therapist.”